The strength of your company and career is dependent upon the relationships you've built over the years. Even so, most people let important contacts fall off the radar, often for years at a time.

Then something happens and suddenly you want to get back in touch with a somebody you've neglected because (let's face it) you had better things to do than keep the relationship alive and well.

In my free weekly newsletter (in addition to providing links to my most recent posts), I offer free critiques of reader emails. Based on what I've seen, here's how most people attempt to reactivate a neglected contact:

SUBJECT: Long time no see

Hey, John,

I hope you're doing well!

I've started selling mcguffins and I would love to explain to you why our mcguffins are the best in the world!

What's the best way to get on your calendar? You can reach me at 888-555-1234 or check out our website at

I look forward to hearing from you!


Jim Jones
McGuffins Inc.
1234 ABC Blvd.
Central City, OH, 44130

Email like this almost never get answered, primarily because the hidden message is: "The only reason I'm contacting you is because I want something from you."  Beyond that, here are some other reasons such emails go unanswered:

  1. The email is all about the sender and what the sender wants, which is irrelevant to the recipient. 
  2. The tone of fake friendliness is insulting and even faintly disgusting.  The capper is the "sincerely" at the end when the email is obviously self-serving.
  3. The request for a meeting, and therefore the expenditure of the other person's time (and thus money) is completely out-of-line.
  4. The Subject line is irrelevant to the recipient and actually reminds the recipient that the sender has neglected to maintain the relationship.
  5. The email makes the common error of having multiple calls-to-action, which tends to reduce the response rate (too many choices).
  6. The final sentence is not only self-centered but presumptuous.  After this shameless display of "me me me," why would anyone want to respond?

To be clear, the example I've provided above is much better than average. Many such emails actually contain feature lists, biz-blab, and other gobble-de-gook guaranteed to make the recipient hit the delete key.

Ironically, it's easy to reestablish contact with a neglect business contact. In fact, I have an almost 100% response rate to my "reactivate a contact" emails.  I'll  explain exactly how to do this in tomorrow's post, How to Reactivate a Business Contact.

Meanwhile, though, I'll tell you the secret (which I'll explain in detail tomorrow). The secret is 1) get over yourself, 2) put aside your own agenda, and 3) get curious about the other person.

Again, I'll be going into more detail tomorrow, so stay tuned.